New Orleans is famous for its distinctive music, Creole cuisine, and annual celebrations and festivals, such as Mardi Gras. But it’s not a city that many would associate with innovation. However, the melting pot of cultures has helped create a mindset in which innovation thrives. For example, the combination of African music and the blues combined with other American influences gave rise to the only indigenous art music to form out of the US.

In this week’s episode of Innovation Storytellers, Michael Hecht, President & CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc discusses how cultural clashes create environments in which innovation thrives. We also explore how bringing a financial and a moral perspective together are critical components in driving innovation forward. Michael also shares with me how post-hurricane Katrina, New Orleans needed to rebuild entrepreneurship and focus on technology.

Guest Details: 

Name: Michael Hecht
Title:  How the Big Easy Attracts Innovation to New Orleans
Company: Greater New Orleans, Inc.
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Michael Hecht is President & CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc., the economic development agency for southeast Louisiana. GNO, Inc.’s mission is to create a region with a thriving economy and an excellent quality of life for everyone. Under Michael’s leadership, GNO, Inc. has been named a “Top Economic Development Organization in the United States” by Site Selection magazine.

Michael has been recognized as “One of the Ten People Who Made a Difference in the South,” “One of the 20 Business ‘Icons’ of the Tricentennial,” and “2018 CEO of the Year.” But before coming to GNO, Inc., Michael led the State’s quarter-billion-dollar Katrina Small Business Recovery Program. Before coming home to Louisiana, Michael worked for Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City, running the post-9/11 small business program.

Michael’s entrepreneurial experience includes co-founding a conglomerate of restaurant ventures, including “Foreign Cinema,” named Restaurant of the Year 2000 in San Francisco. In addition, he began his career as a strategic management consultant in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.